Exhibition Introductions

What could be a better intro than that?  A picture of a cat with a funny saying and “sloe” spelled not like the speed but the kind of gin.  (I still don’t get that…)

In many schools, it is exhibition time again and you are helping students get ready to present their work to a public panel, and nagging at the back of your mind is the idea – I hope students come up with an engaging way to present their work.  Just like in great writing, a solid introduction is essential to engage, foreshadow, explain, and describe.   Great writers have an artful way of doing this.

“Call me Ismael.  Some years ago -never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.”

Oh, understatement…

So let’s look at some options for Exhibition Introductions, so you escape the cat’s fate.


Brainstorm with students the different items they want to have in an introduction.

  • Consider What to include in your introductions:
    • Name, grade, interest, internship, (serial number)
    • Introduce handouts (learning plan? Agenda? journals to read? feedback form?)
    • Review the agenda and expectations for the presentation.

Taking it to the Next Step:

The basic intro is like a scooter, it might get you to dinner, but you’ll end up their alone. After a couple of exhibitions, it is time to get more creative and bring the panel with you.

  • Start with a Relevant Quote
  • Quiz the panel on a point that you will be teaching them later on.
  • Ask the panel to write a short response to a question that you will answer or to a
  • Play a song and/or slideshow at the beginning to set the context or the mood.
  • Do an activity for each person to introduce themselves and say why they are there.
  • Make a word jumble out of important themes that will come up in the exhibition.
  • Stage the room to have work spread around the room, like a true gallery – let the introduction be people wandering looking at and reading student work.


If you have any great examples, please send them in comments.



Exhibitions – Reminders


Many schools across the country that use various forms of authentic assessment, in the form of public exhibitions, will have quarterly or trimester exhibitions soon. You have already had your conversations with staff about what the main goals of exhibition are for the quarter in general, what the tenor of the experience will be like (where on the continuum between celebration and proving ground).

Some reminders:

  1. Have an expectation for each student about what success means.
  2. Decide where on the continuum between celebration and proving ground your exhibitions should be and communicate this transparently to students, parents, other panelists and other staff when coming to your exhibitions.
  3. Train panelists before the exhibition.  Don’t rely on the feedback form to do the training for you!  Students should be coached to observe carefully, look for specific benchmarks, ask questions, and provide feedback actively.
  4. Have students prepare to reflect on their learning at exhibition.  Stage one – say what you did, Stage 2 – talk about what you learned from what you did. (See the What I did | What I learned chart)
  5. Have a feedback form that supports your goals and philosophy. ( I favor the open ended feedback forms…).
  6. Do things that will increase the comfort and effectiveness of each student while speaking and presenting:
    1. Prep and run through
    2. Note cards + visual
    3. Have objects there
    4. Hold it in an “inspirational” place.
    5. Bring food (set the culture)

Post Exhibition:

  1. At the end of the exhibition, consider circling up the panel and have every person give brief warm and cool feedback.  Also ask the presenter to give their initial impressions.
  2. Consider having a process for creating a “contract” or list of work to be completed along with due dates and strategies for completion.